Seeing at a glance, smelling in a whiff: rapid forms of perceptual decision making

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2006 Jun;7(6):485-91. doi: 10.1038/nrn1933.


Intuitively, decisions should always improve with more time for the accumulation of evidence, yet psychophysical data show a limit of 200-300 ms for many perceptual tasks. Here, we consider mechanisms that favour such rapid information processing in vision and olfaction. We suggest that the brain limits some types of perceptual processing to short, discrete chunks (for example, eye fixations and sniffs) in order to facilitate the construction of global sensory images.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology
  • Decision Making / physiology
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Reaction Time
  • Saccades / physiology
  • Smell / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*